Although it might seem no more than a small industrial town on the surface, Pernik is rich in national tradition and activity with ancient folklore roots, an interesting history and a cultural spirit of western Bulgaria. Home to more than 80,000 people, it is the most populated city in the area, after the capital city of Sofia, which is only 30 kilometres away. Pernik is the capital of the province and found on the Struma River between a collection of mountains, making it a place of natural beauty as well as a city of rich heritage, enticing culture and Bulgarian traditions.
Pernik is steeped in historic landmarks, and one of the most iconic is the Palace of Culture, a cultural hub full of theatre halls, a library and orchestral halls that host local ensembles, dances and festivals. There is also a Regional History Museum, various churches and monasteries, and the Thracian Sanctuary, an ancient necropolis discovered along with golden treasures and valuable jewellery, which is now one of the “Wonders of Bulgaria”. A fun activity for visitors to Pernik is to visit the Museum of Mining, an underground gallery in an original mine containing 30 different expositions revealing the history of Bulgarian mining. Natural landmarks include Duhlata Cave, which is the longest in the country at length of 17,600 metres, Mountain Golo Bardo, which towers over the city, Ostritsa Nature Reserve, and the “Living Water” area, which contains a legendary fountain of happiness.
Pernik has a central train station connecting to the nearby capital of Sofia and other cities in throughout Bulgaria and Europe. The nearest airport is Sofia International, which is about 40 kilometres away and has public transport routes to Pernik. Visitors can also take the train or drive to Sofia city centre and Pernik within 35 minutes, and once in the city itself, it is easy to walk or cycle between the major landmarks.
Pernik was originally the medieval town, Krakra and remnants of its history remain today, for example in the Krakra fortress that overlooks the city. Thracians occupied the settlement in the 4th century, and it became the Bulgarian stronghold of Pernik in the 11th Century, then developing into a place of political and military power. In recent history, the town grew rapidly through its coal industry and became a hub of the mining industry and centre of energy in Bulgaria.